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iPhone Emulators on the App Store: Game Boy, N64, PS1, PSP, and More


In April, Apple updated its guidelines to allow retro game emulators on the App Store, and several popular emulators have already been released.


The emulators released so far allow iPhone users to play games released for older consoles from Nintendo, Sony, SEGA, Atari, and others.

A list of some popular emulators available on the App Store so far follows.

Released

Delta

Delta Emulator Pokemon Gen 3 FeatureDelta Emulator Pokemon Gen 3 Feature
Delta is a well-polished emulator for several Nintendo consoles, with beautiful on-screen controller skins, support for a wide range of physical controllers, and more. Developed by Riley Testut, Delta is the successor to the GBA4iOS emulator.

Supported Devices:

iPad support is coming soon.

Supported Consoles:

  • Game Boy (all models)
  • Nintendo DS
  • Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)
  • Nintendo 64 (N64)

RetroArch

RetroArch Sonic iOS FeatureRetroArch Sonic iOS Feature
RetroArch is a frontend that provides all-in-one access to many different emulators for consoles from Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, SEGA, Sony, and others. The app offers RetroAchievements, which are essentially custom challenges added on top of classic games, such as “find and collect a Fire Flower” in Super Mario Bros. for NES.

Supported Devices:

Supported Consoles:

  • Atari 2600
  • Commodore 64
  • PlayStation (PS1)
  • PlayStation Portable (PSP)
  • SEGA Genesis
  • SEGA Saturn
  • Game Boy (all models)
  • Nintendo DS
  • Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)
  • Nintendo 64 (N64)

RetroArch’s full list of supported consoles is in the app’s description on the App Store.

PPSSPP

iOS Emulator FeatureiOS Emulator Feature
PlayStation Portable emulator PPSSPP is built into RetroArch, but it is also available as a standalone app for those who want a more distilled experience.

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Supported Devices:

Supported Consoles:

  • PlayStation Portable (PSP)

Gamma

Final Fantasy iOS Emulation Feature GreenFinal Fantasy iOS Emulation Feature Green
Gamma is an emulator for the original PlayStation. It is developed by ZodTTD, who has been creating emulators for jailbroken iPhones for around 15 years.

Supported Devices:

Supported Consoles:

Coming Soon

Provenance

Provenance is another frontend with all-in-one access to emulators for consoles from Atari, Nintendo, SEGA, Sony, and others. The app is currently available in beta via TestFlight, and it will be launching on the App Store soon. Provenance has been in development since 2016, and it could already be sideloaded on the iPhone.

Supported Devices:

Supported Consoles:

  • Atari 2600
  • ColecoVision
  • PlayStation (PS1)
  • PlayStation Portable (PSP)
  • SEGA Genesis
  • SEGA Saturn
  • SEGA Dreamcast
  • Game Boy (all models)
  • Nintendo DS
  • Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)
  • Nintendo 64 (N64)

A full list of supported consoles is available on Provenance’s website.

Not Coming

Dolphin

The popular GameCube and Wii emulator Dolphin will not be available in the App Store, as its developers said Apple will not allow the emulator to use just-in-time (JIT) compilation, and PowerPC-based games are “basically unplayable” without it:

The GameCube and Wii have a PowerPC-based CPU inside them. All modern Apple devices use an ARM-based CPU. It isn’t possible to directly run PowerPC code on an ARM CPU, and vice versa. Therefore, if we want to run a GameCube or Wii game on an iPhone, it is necessary to translate the game’s PowerPC code to ARM so that the CPU can understand it.

Dolphin uses something called a Just-in-Time (JIT) recompiler to achieve this. Whenever the emulated console wants to run game code, Dolphin will use its JIT to translate the PowerPC code to ARM, and then execute the results.

Unfortunately, Apple generally does not allow apps to use JIT recompilers on iOS.



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